It’s time for another embarrassing venture back into the previous adventures of the Dateless Man. By this point we’re mostly through with my high school years, even if not quite through my teenage years. After all, technically one is a teenager until you hit 20, which was an awkward year for me. Then again, haven’t all of them been? Moving along, although I didn’t have many dates in high school, I did certainly attempt to draw the attention of women at the time. “But, wait a minute!” one of the dozen or so people following this blog (thanks, by the way!) would ask. “You’ve said a million times how you were so shy you could hardly talk to women in previous posts!” My response would be that I certainly did anything possible to avoid doing that. There is a difference between trying to draw attention from women and talking to them. Unfortunately, I wasn’t an athlete so I couldn’t simply draw a crowd with sports or some athletic achievement. While I did do some weight training in high school, I was on the low end of mediocre and I didn’t have the discipline to continue. No, I often employed some other desperate attempts to draw attention to myself in some situations. Virtually all of them were dangerous and a few backfired on me. But at the time, they seemed easier than simply trying to introduce myself. Looking back…boy, did I take some risks.
I can’t even explain the logic behind some of my stunts. I think I imagined that I would so impress the target of my desires with some crazy stunt that they’d be the ones who’d offer an icebreaker and it would go from there. I can only imagine that it was due to my belief that I had to be a macho man to impress women enough that they would notice me, due to what I saw all around me in the media and in life. Since I wasn’t in any way assertive or macho or charismatic or handsome or charming, I kept trying to think of other methods. Sure, there were artists or musicians, but I could neither draw or play an instrument.
So, this won’t be one long recount of a date or situation or a specific lady from my past, but a few vignettes in one go.
The first I’d call “Car Dodging”. That is, I’d venture into the street during traffic and dodge a car before I was hit. It was reckless and stupid, for both myself and the hapless drivers I was pissing off. I usually only did it if there happened to be a young lady on the sidewalk that had struck my fancy. I think I first came up with it at the end of junior high and did it a few times in high school. Now, I don’t mean venturing onto the freeway; I mean one or two lane streets in a residential neighborhood. In reality I could gauge speed and distance well enough that I moved well in time and rarely risked things getting closer than a few yards. I believe I only sparked a reaction from one girl once, and it was naturally something along the lines of, “You’re crazy”. Which, I’d agree. Fortunately I stopped doing it before anyone got hurt or anyone’s insurance went up.
I distinct recall another time when I was about 16-17 years old. It wasn’t at school but it was at an arcade type place which was a 45 minute bus ride from my house. I’d go there fairly often once I’d discovered it, as it was a larger and more fancy place than an arcade which was closer to my home. It not only had a laser-tag arena as well as sign ups for paint ball, but a second floor with a ton of arcade machines and batting cages and a lower floor which had bumper cars, some sort of climbing cage thing for kids and refreshments. One of my friends who is into wrestling showed me where the place was when we went out to get a signature and from there I was hooked. It closed years ago and I believe is a factory or warehouse now, which is a shame. At any rate, one of the various amusements on the first floor was a “high striker” or “strength tester”. Whack the target with a hammer, make the light go up a pole and if it hits the bell, that’s the top prize. Now, can you imagine how well this went for me? Oblivious to my own fate, at one time I was resting after a long day and some young ladies were around the area, so I figured there was only one course of action – perform a feat of strength in their vicinity and hope they noticed! Yeah, teenage me was a bit of a moron.
Anyway, I paid for my whack and of course being a macho man I picked the largest and heaviest of the three hammers offered. By now the girls were nearby and I made sure to exchange a look at them before I gave it my mightiest. It was, naturally, a heavier hammer than I ever expected. But I gave it a mighty swing, with all of my might…
Missed the target by a few inches, and nailed my foot pretty good. I forget if the women even noticed or laughed at me, but I certainly felt quite humiliated. From the look on the guy selling tickets, I certainly made his day. I did manage to hit the target on my second try, but whatever might I had was stifled by pain. The light went maybe an inch or two up the pole (meaning my strength was somewhere between a mouse and a vole). A few of my toes were swollen for a week or two after that. Perhaps that was nature’s way of warning me that attempting feats of strength or daring in the vicinity of women my age was no way to strike an impression, and that I should either get over my shyness or just accept my fate as a lonely loser.
Unfortunately I didn’t listen to such hints until near the end of high school when I was 17-18. I was at a public park not far from the shopping mall area where I spent a lot of my youth and was once again in the vicinity of some young ladies. Sitting on a bench behind a short fence which overlooked a green area with trees, naturally I set out to climb atop the fence and jump over it. That part was no big deal, and nothing I hadn’t done before. What made this time different was there was a glass bottle where I was going to land; I had the brilliant idea to land on it, smash it, and somehow attract attention with my feat of…landing manhood? I honestly don’t know what I was thinking, but it turned out my ankle had more give than the bottle. There was a horrible CRUNCH noise, but it wasn’t glass. I was in incredible pain and I could hardly move my ankle for the rest of the day. In fact, it was about an hour before I could manage to limp out of the park. I had it x-rayed as I feared I’d broken something; thankfully it was just a sprain. It wasn’t the first time I’d twisted my ankle but it was the most severe; it was a full month before my ankle was 100% again.
Fortunately, that time the lesson stuck. I never attempted such stupid feats to attract female attention again. It also probably helped that not long after I was in college, which provided a completely different social setting for me to fail at. But, before then, there’s one final high school adventure to recount, and it’ll be a doozy.